Unseen snag tree in thick canopy impacts excavator during trail construction

Safety Alert Type: 
Heavy Equipment
Albert Canyon resource road (east of Revelstoke, BC)
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Downie Timber Ltd. - Woodlands
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

An excavator operator was constructing a pilot trail in the Albert Canyon area. The canopy was much heavier than “normal working conditions” as he was pushing a green tree in some very thick timber.

The green tree brushed up against a snag that was unseen by the operator from his cab. The top of the snag became dislodged when it was struck by the green tree and fell onto the hood of the machine. There were no injuries associated with this incident, however the machine was left with a dented engine hood and a broken off radio antenna.

Another worker in the vicinity who witnessed the incident attempted to grab the radio to alert the excavator operator but the broken snag fell too quickly. It was noted that snag trees were identified as a hazard in the pre-work for the job.

Immediate Cause: Inattention to surroundings – machine operator should not be working “blindly” in thick timber.

Basic Cause: Inadequate risk assessment; inadequate work standards or procedures

Root Cause: Inadequate standards

Learnings and Suggestions: 

Corrective Actions: Improve current Safe Work Procedures (SWP) to include the requirement for conducting daily site walk through assessments for snags and other hazards when working in thick timber.

Prevention Suggestions: The pre-work site assessment should have identified snags as a potential hazard of this particular locale and the issue communicated with the entire crew. A daily site assessment/walk through should be completed in heavy timber sites when conditions may have changed, to ensure that ALL hazards are identified.

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Dawn Doebert, RPF Silviculture Forester - Downie Timber Ltd. Revelstoke (250) 837-7240

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